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Linda Perhacs: God is Saying This to You

By Douglas Wolk, Contributor

"The way I compose music is that I hear it, and then I have to run and write it down," Linda Perhacs says, as we sit on the balcony of a friend's house in the Hollywood Hills. "It's coming this way, so it reflects the universe and God. If we're talking about the creative process, it starts here." She points toward the heavens, then brings her hands down toward her head. Perhacs is about to release… more »

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The Numero Group: Numbers Game

By Peter Margasak, Contributor

Asked about reissue label the Numero Group, Syl Johnson, the Chicago soul singer who logged a series of mid-level hits in the late '60s and early '70s, was forthright: "They're excellent," he said. Anyone who knows anything about Johnson will be floored by this confession. Simply put, Johnson is one of the more notoriously cantankerous figures in Chicago soul music, harboring a sharp disdain for anything that even vaguely resembles the music industry. Yet when it… more »

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Interview: Mavis Staples

By Barry Walters, Contributor

Let's not mince words: Former Staple Singers vocalist and soul/gospel queen Mavis Staples has one of the greatest voices of any living singer regardless of gender or genre, and the extraordinary expressiveness of that voice tumbles out of her even when she talks. When she picks up the phone and says, "Hell-oh," you know this is the same voice that ignited chart-topping '70s classics like "Respect Yourself" and "I'll Take You There." Even at 71… more »

New + Noteworthy

eMusic Reviews View All

Various Artists, The Soul of Designer Records

2014 | Label: Big Legal Mess

From 1967-77, if you were a gospel group that wanted to make a record, you likely found your way to Designer Records in Memphis. Whatever your budget, label boss Style Wooten was willing to accommodate, producing and recording 45 RPM singles you could buy on an as-needed basis to sell at your shows — a form of self-publishing for the cash-strapped.

By this means, Designer Records released more than 500 gospel sets during the decade, 101 of which have been cherry picked for this four-disc box set. And what makes this… more »

The Como Mamas, Get an Understanding…

2013 | Label: Daptone Records / The Orchard

Ester Mae Smith and sisters Angela Taylor and Della Daniels have been singing together since childhood, but the way their voices blend sounds much older: singing a cappella at Mt. Mariah Baptist Church in Como, Mississippi, the women harness a stripped-down sincerity. In their voices, God is taken off the pedestal and put in arms’ reach.

“Now let us all go back to that old landmark,” the women sing on the first track of Get an Understanding…, an invitation by a gospel trio molded in the land of the blues. “God… more »